The go-karts speeding around the track for the St-Labre 200 may be a mix of cutting-edge and scrapyard builds, but they’ll all have one thing in common: none of the karts will be more than 24 hours old.
Joel Grenier, along with family and friends, started the event on a smaller scale with a basic premise. On the first day, the karts get built, and the next day, they race. Participants are given a building space, a powertrain and wheels, but they bring and build the rest with their own tools.
“We wanted to race on an even playing field. We always had different engines and different components, so it was never a fair race,” Grenier says.
This can mean a long day (and night) for the builders, but teams might include members who build and members who race.
“All teams have different strategies. In my mind, you need a lightweight jockey to keep the speed up on the track. The easiest way to shave 30 lbs off my cart was to find someone who is much smaller than me!” Grenier says.
Grenier says he’s committed to keeping the event free, and has the support of over 150 volunteers to help it run smoothly.
There are other forms of races beyond go-karts as well - bubble ball races, a family feud race, a kids’ bike race and more, as well as cookoffs, fireworks, music and other entertainment.
Any money raised goes back to surrounding communities, to the tune of $70,000 over the last nine years, all from what started as a family hobby with Grenier’s dad and brother.
“We started off with building wind powered carts, but those were only fun one way,” Grenier says. “It’s now become more than a hobby. It’s such a strong team-building exercise, and an extremely powerful tool for promoting trades. I’m really looking forward to helping my children build their first go-kart.”